A burst of four goals in nine minutes helped Maccabi Haifa FC to a resounding victory against FK Borac Banja Luka in Israel.
The champions of Bosnia and Herzegovina may have been playing their first game at this level, but they would have gone in a goal up at the break had Weaam Amasha not cancelled out Boris Raspudić's opener in first-half added time. Amasha completed his hat-trick a minute either side of Bamidele Yampolsky's 72nd-minute goal, and Eyal Golasa rounded off the scoring with ten to play. The tie concludes in Banjaluka a week tonight.
Borac translates as 'fighter' and the visitors proved their intent by breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute, Raspudić capitalising on some confusion in the home defence by racing clear and slotting the ball beyond Nir Davidovitch.
A clever short corner involving Yaniv Katan and Talb Twatha created the opening from which Amasha equalised, much to the relief of coach Elisha Levi who had already made one change by bringing on Vladimir Dvalishvili. A second substitute, Yampolsky, crossed for Amasha to nod in his second, before the No26 scored a delightful goal of his own, outpacing three defenders in a run from midfield and finishing with aplomb.
Remarkably, Maccabi scored a third goal in as many minutes as Amasha converted Dvalishvili's pass. Four became five when Golasa took advantage of Borac's despondency, much to the delight of the home support.